Monday, August 18, 2008

Management Reporter Considerations

When using Management Reporter (MR) with PerformancePoint Server Planning you must take certain things into consideration. To start with you must have a Financial Model as your source for MR. This will give the entity wizard a few things that are required such as currency and a calendar. It is also crucial that the calendar view selected for MR must have Years and Months.

How you set up your dimensions is also very important especially if have specific reporting requirements. None of the dimension attributes are exposed to MR so if you require them then create separate dimensions. For example you may have set Country as an attribute of your Entities and you will not see these in MR. Actually create a new dimension called Country and suddenly it will pop up in MR for use.

Another consideration of labeling your dimensions is that when exposed in MR, the hierarchies are not visible. It may be a good idea to identify your dimensions in some manner so that one can determine parents vs leaf level members. You may consider having an alternate hierarchy dimension for accounts that only show posting level accounts. This way you do not have the risk of adding already totalled accounts more than once.
By just keeping these few things in mind when creating models for reporting through MR will make life a lot easier.
- Paul Steynberg

Friday, August 15, 2008

Performance Issues with PPS Management Reporter - Update

After months of testing PerformancePoint Server Management Reporter in it's current state, I have concluded that it will not handle the volumes that our company requires. It is way to slow and will just frustrate the business. The problem lies with the whole design of the system. I did a full analysis of the MDX code and how the system operates and found that the client (on your machine) sends an MDX code string to the Analysis Server for every combination of lines in your report to the entities specified in your reporting tree. So if you have a 50 line report and you are running it for 10 entities you will send out 500 MDX queries, one at a time. As you can imagine this makes my ZX81 (with the 64Kb Ram Pack) look like Usain Bolt pumped up on steroids.

Do not despair, all is not lost. I had a very positive conversation last night with some members of the team working on this issue. I suspect that we could see two positives in the near future. The first being a MASSIVE improvement on SQL Server 2008. PPS should be certified to work on SQL Server 2008 by SP2 which is planned for December 2008. Another idea kicked around is changing the architecture to a service type environment on the server and use multi-threading and the power available. I would guess that this type of change would only be done for V2, so let's wait and see. As soon as I get my grubby paws on a copy of SP2 to test I will post an item on performance improvements.

- Paul Steynberg

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Should You Throw Apples at Windows?

I found myself looking around for a new laptop a few month ago. Around the same time I purchased a Canon DSLR and started a photography course. Everything pointed to a Mac being the choice for my hobby but Windows was required for my work. I found an article on running Windows on a Mac using Parallels and tested it out on a Mac that I borrowed from my company.

Well hold the phone people, we have a winner. I can say from first hand experience that purchasing a MacBook Pro is the best thing I have done all year. I can switch between Windows and Mac OS without even thinking about it. All my Windows tools are still available and I can benefit from Aperture 2 on Mac for my photograpy.

From what I can gather there are 3 products that allow you to run Windows on your Mac. They are Parallels, Fusion and Macs own Boot Camp. I chose Parallels and have been very happy with the results. It has a mode called Cohesion which presents Windows in such a way that it looks like your Windows applications are running natively within Mac OS. In other words you do not get the Vista desktop in a traditional sense of the word, you get the task bar loaded with your Mac task bar and you cannot tell that it is running on a virtual machine.

If you decide to go this route I suggest that you purchase a 4Gb memory kit from Kingston at around $100 and replace the 2x1Gb modules that comes standard with the Mac. The performance increases are well worth the price.

Another good idea is to share your documents with Mac outside the virtual machine. Also once you have installed Vista and all your applications take a snapshot. This way if you mess something up in the future you can restore the snapshot and still access your documents.

I have tested my system with no problems as yet. I can even terminal on to my PC at the office via a VPN.

The two biggest pleasant surprises for me have been the following:
  • If you have a number of applications open and say for example you have done some work on a new Excel spreadsheet but have not yet saved it, you can just quite Parallels and when you bring it back up again in the future the spreadsheet is waiting for you just as you left it.
  • If you receive e-mail attachments via your Mac, say a Word doc, and you double click it on your Mac, it associates it with Word in your VM and opens up your Vista session and presents the document in Word.
So to answer the original question, YES, you should throw Apples at Windows.

- Paul Steynberg